As a resident of Summit County for over 20 years, I care immensely about how this community is faring, and what we can do to make it better. As CEO of the Summit Community Care Clinic, I also care immensely about the health of the community and what we can do to improve our health care system.
I am proud to be a part of a community that has made a commitment to both these things, and is approaching change in a collaborative, committed way. The health of our community is a top priority, and the community as a whole has been leading the way in health reform.
The state of Colorado and the nation are in the midst of major health care change. Coverage continues to expand, and collectively we have made critical investments to improve efficiency and value in our health care system. Medicaid is now available to many more Coloradans that need it, and Connect for Health Colorado — our state-based insurance marketplace — is enrolling more residents every day. But, it hasn’t been a smooth transition, and there are more hurdles ahead, particularly related to cost of coverage for Summit County residents. There are many people who can’t afford the basic care they need or who are struggling to pay off medical debt. Here in Summit County we’re facing our own unique challenges in making health care and insurance coverage affordable, and we’re just getting started.
Health care reform is changing Summit County, but just how much or in what ways isn’t entirely clear yet. It’s important that we tell our story to help Colorado’s leaders, our nation’s leaders and all those who live in communities like ours learn from and understand our experience. It’s also important that we learn from and understand the experiences of other communities as they implement changes to their own health care systems. I’ve signed on to participate in a project called Health is Local, which will help do just that. Over the next year, Health is Local will aggregate the health reform experiences of four Colorado communities — one of which is Summit County. This project is sharing interviews from local health care leaders, photos, videos, data and thoughts from local residents and officials alike. It will help to highlight all we do well and also where we need help.
It’s our story, and all of Colorado’s story, and I’m proud to be able to help tell it.
As we move forward and improve our health care system, we must continue to collaborate and think creatively. We must identify problems early and work to address them transparently and eagerly.
We may face unique challenges, but they are our unique challenges, and together we can overcome them. I hope you’ll visit HealthIsLocal.org throughout 2014 to follow our progress and see the impacts on other communities as well.
Sarah Vaine is the CEO of the Summit County Care Clinic. She lives in Frisco.